Nicholas Merritt - Elizabeth Ashton Family Group

Parents   Parents
Nicholas Merritt Mary Sandin   John Ashton Susannah Foxwell
  b. 1613 England b. England   b. abt. 1639 place unknown b. abt. 1646 on Blue Point, Maine
  d. 17 Jul 1685 in Marblehead d, 9 Jul 1685 in Marblehead   bef. 1721 in Marblehead d. in refuge
Nicholas Merritt Elizabeth Ashton
b. Abt. 1657 in Salem, Essex , Massachusetts b. Abt 1670 in Blue Point (Scarborough), Maine
d. Jun 1736 in Marblehead, Essex, Marblehead, Massachusetts d. 1736 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Relationship Events
Marriage Before 1690 Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Elizabeth Merritt bp. 30 Mar 1690 and d. before May 1698 (when Elizabeth her sister was baptized) in Marblehead
Nicholas Merritt bp. 13 Mar 1691 and d. before Mar 1702 (when Nicholas his brother was baptized) in Marblehead
Mary Merritt bp. 27 May 1694 and d. before May 1700 (when Mary her sister was baptized) in Marblehead
Samuel Merritt bp. 9 Mar 1695 in Marblehead; m. 24 Jun 1717 in Marblehead Charity Saunders (b. 12 Nov 1696 in Marblehead); four children: Miriam, Nicholas, Elizabeth, and Charity Merritt; d. estate probated 3 Jan 1732 in Marblehead
Elizabeth Merritt bp. 8 May 1698 in Marblehead; m. 30 Nov 1715 in Marblehead John Pearce (Pierce) (1696-1794 in Marblehead); thirteen children: John, twins Mary and Elizabeth, Sarah, John, Rebecca, twins Mehitable and Jane, Anna, Ruhamah, twins Martha and Ruhamah, and Nathaniel Pearse; d. ?
Mary bp. 12 May 1700 in Marblehead; m. 10 Dec 1717 in Marblehead Robert Pierce (b. abt. 1695 in Marblehead); five children: Elizabeth, Richard, Robert, Mary, and Elizabeth Pierce; d. ?
Nicholas Merritt bp. 29 Mar 1702 in Marblehead; m. 2 Dec 1724 in Marblehead Jane Gifford b. 10 Jan 1706 and d. in Marblehead); three children: Nathaniel, Elizabeth, and Mary Merritt; d. ?
Rebecca Merritt bp. 14 May 1704 in Marblehead; m. 8 Dec 1722 in Marblehead Robert Gifford (bp. 14 Feb 1696 in Marblehead); six children: Robert, William, Merritt, Nicholas Merritt, Rebecca, and Elizabeth Gifford; d. ?
David Merritt bp. 11 Feb 1704 in Marblehead; no further trace
Jane/Jean Merritt, bp. 10 Mar 1705 in Marblehead, m. 16 Nov 1721 in Marblehead Richard Pedrick (bp 13 Jul 1701 and d. bef 1766 in Marblehead); eleven children: Jean,, Richard, Jean, Mary, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Ruhamah, Miriam, Rebecca, Sarah, and John Pierce Pedrick; d. ?

What We Know About This Family

An Overview of Their Lives

Nicholas was a fisherman. Elizabeth's family had initially settled in Blue Point, Maine, but fled from the Indian attacks to Marblehead after her mother died in refuge. Very little information could be found about this family. Fortunately, there were records of baptism and some marriage records, but only one death record, and I was not able to find probate information for anyone other than son, Samuel. The baptismal records indicate that their first three children died as infants or youngsters. According to Marblehead, Nicholas's brother Samuel died in possession of a small house and lot in or before 1697 that the administrator conveyed to Nicholas for 45 pounds on 20 Oct 1710. He in turn conveyed the house and land to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Pearce of Marblehead, baker, 23 Dec 1735. Mr. & Mrs. Pearce conveyed the house and land to Robert Gifford (husband of Elizabeth's sister, Rebecca) of Marblehead, fisherman, 17 Feb 1738.

No records could be found for son David Merritt. An estate for a David Merritt was probated in Marblehead in 1712 and administered by a Nicholas Merritt, but David, the son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Ashton, would still have been a child at this time. He was possibly named for the David who died who died in 1712. There are as well other Davids later. I suspect not all the Merritts have been accounted for in the records that ate available.

About the Children

  • Samuel's probate identified his widow Charity Merritt and was administered by John Merritt, Nicholas Merritt, and Samuel Merritt, Jr. There is not a vital record for the birth or baptism of Samuel Jr. to this couple, and the relationship of the three men to Charity or her husband is not given. It seems quite possible Samuel and Charity would have had a son named for his father, but I can find no records for him (people with names of their uncles or other relatives were often designated as 2nd, Jr, and the like, making it sometimes difficult to determine their parentage). Samuel's probate identified him as a fisherman.

  • Elizabeth married John Pierce, brother of Robert, husband of her sister, Mary. The Pierces, like the Ashtons, were refugees from the Indian wars in Maine. Elizabeth and John Pierce had fourteen children with eleven pregnancies. They had three sets of twin girls. More unusual for the time, it appears that most of them survived infancy as at least four married. John Pierce was identified as a baker in a deed transacted in Maine in 1732 to convey some of the land inherited from their parents to a friend and in the deed conveying the "Samuel Merritt" house from his father in law Nicholas to him and his wife.

  • Mary's husband was mariner Robert Pierce, brother of John (her brother-in-law). A third brother, Richard, married Hannah Bassett, the daughter of our ancestor John Bassett. Their sister, Mary, married Edward Surriage and had eight children, one of whom, Agnes, became the subject of a romantic rags-to-riches tale that appears in the Documents section for a bit of Marblehead color. Agnes' brother Isaac in turn married Ruhamah, daughter of our Richard and Jean Merritt Pedrick. The Surriage family being large and poor, Agnes accepted employment as a tavern maid at the Fountain Inn in Marblehead as a teenager and captured the fancy of an Englishman who was part of the gentry.

  • Nicholas was a fisherman at the time he and his cousins Joseph Libby and Phillip Ashton were captured by the pirate Edward Low and held against their will. Nicholas was one of a group released off of North Africa a few months later. Nicholas seized a ship just captured intending to set off for England, but a shortage of supplies took them to the Azores where they were arrested and thrown in jail. Nicholas remained four months in a dank cell fed on one meal of thin cabbage soup a day. He contracted a mild case of smallpox that weakened him further. He was released penniless with no explanation. He could neither speak nor understand the language, but managed to find odd jobs on the docks until a ship from New England offered him a job as a deck hand and passage home. He arrived 20 Sep 1723 to the great happiness of his family but also to the news that his cousin Phillip Ashton was still missing and that their cousin Joseph Libby had been hanged a little over a month earlier on 19 Jul 1723. More information about this incident can be found on the family group page for his mother's patents and in the documents section for this family. What he did after his adventure has not been determined.

  • Rebecca married Robert Gifford, the brother of her brother Nicholas's wife, Jane. Robert with others who were present at the wharves when Joseph Libby, Phillip Ashton, and Rebecca's brother Nicholas were kidnapped by pirate Ned Lowe published an advertisement in the Salem newspaper in 1722 with the intention of making it clear that the three young men were taken against their will. The parents of Robert and Jane were Robert and Mary Waters Gifford, who had a large number of children. Many of them married siblings or cousins of those of our own family members (Alice Gifford m. Robert Bray; Mary Gifford m. Francis Girdler, William Gifford m. Miriam Pedrick; Deborah Gifford m. Philip Brimblecomb; and Sarah Gifford m. John Grant, in addition to the two siblings mentioned here).

  • Jean and her husband, Richard Pederick, are our direct ancestors and had eleven children. Her birth record identified her by the name "Jane", while the marriage record showed that Richard Pedrick married "Jean" Merritt. This discrepancy slowed down the research for her parents until I found the genealogical document about the Pedricks, which says Richard married Jane/Jean, "probably the daughter of Nicholas Merritt and Elizabeth ________." Circumstantial evidence bears out that Jane and Jean were one and the same: 1) Jane/Jean were often used in varied spellings in this time including Jane/Jean Gifford who married Nicholas; 2) Jean's sister Elizabeth had two daughters (one died before the other was born) with the very unusual name "Ruhamah", a name also given to one of Jean and Richard's daughters; and 3) Jean's last child was named "John Pierce Pedrick." Like her sister Elizabeth, Jean also had eleven pregnancies, but unlike her sister, none were twins, so she had eleven children instead of the 14 her sister had.

Proof of Relationship

The baptismal records are our best proof of relationship.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is complete. There were many Merritts in Marblehead and perhaps one day someone will be able to find all of them with complete dates and more information about their lives. It might be worthwhile to check resources once in a while.


Questions, Comments, or New Information -Email